Law enforcement had always been senior Andy McCoy’s intended path. When he heard about the Explorers Law Enforcement program coming to the East area next school year, he contacted Student Resource Officer Joel Porter to find out more about it.
“I’ve always been interested in the profession and I’d like to learn more about what they do,” McCoy said. “And possibly experience a little more before I learn about it.”
Sponsored nationwide by the Boy Scouts of America, the program is offered to students ages 14-20, giving them an opportunity to gain practical, real-life experience in law enforcement, including riding with an officer to make routine traffic stops.
About 12 East students including McCoy have expressed interest, though the program is not yet in place in Prairie Village. The program would be set up with classes for a couple of hours twice a month taught by officers from the Prairie Village Police Department. Further details aren’t decided on as of yet.
McCoy did some research and found that in addition to riding along with officers on patrol, they will be able to assist the police with providing security at community events like VillageFest. Students will be taught in a classroom setting employing simulated situations, with officers acting as mentors, covering different aspects of law enforcement.
“[The program] will help them develop a better sense of what they would be getting into if they do pursue a career in law enforcement, to not just see it on paper but practically living it out,” Porter said. “And seeing if it’s something that they’re comfortable doing.”
The Overland Park Police Department has a branch of the program already in place. Right now, they have about 30 students, which is the most that Sergeant Melanie Pierce has had in her four years of advising the program.
“The kids get involved in kind of what we do as police officers,” Pierce said. “They get real-life experience in fake situations.”
McCoy is planning to study criminal justice at the University of Central Missouri next year, so he will commute back to be part of the program in the fall to go along with his formal degree. McCoy will be able to be in the program after he graduates from East until he turns 20.
Porter says that being a part of the program wouldn’t make it easier for a student to get into a police training academy or get hired as part of a police force. Rather, it’s for students who see themselves in a career in law enforcement. Porter recommends that any interested students come talk to him.
“It’s for allowing teenagers that believe they’re interested in a career in law enforcement to look into that a little bit deeper, and know whether or not they want to continue to pursue it,” Porter said.